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French politicians rally round Hollande after claims of affair with actress

Julie Gayet at the Cannes Film Festival
Julie Gayet at the Cannes Film Festival Open acces/Georges Biard

Politicians of left and right condemned a French magazine's claim that President François Hollande is having an affair with actress Julie Gayet. Hollande said Friday that he may take legal action against the weekly Closer for invasion of his privacy.

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Under the headline " "François Hollande and Julie Gayet - the president's secret love", Closer's Friday edition published seven pages of reports and photos on the alleged affair.

Following recent speculation on various websites, the report said Hollande routinely drives through Paris on his scooter to spend the night with the 41-year-old actress.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

"Around New Year's Day a helmeted head of state joined the actress at her apartment, where he is in the habit of spending the night," Closer wrote on its website.

It describes its photos as "astonishing" and hints at a probable public interest defence by claiming that they "pose the question of the president's security".

"The head of state is accompanied by just one bodyguard, who protects the secret of his meetings with the acress and even brings the croissants," it goes on.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Hollande condemned the report as an "invasion of privacy," to which he, "like every other citizen, has a right" and said he was considering legal action.

Hollande's Socialist comrades rallied round the chief on Friday, with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault giving the lead with a declaration that Hollande is "perfectly right" to demand "respect for his private life".

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"This is a totally private matter," the Socialist leader in the National Assembly, Bruno Le roux, told France Info radio. "Politics isn't conducted in the gutter press."

Support also came from Socialist Party chief Harlem Désir and Socialist MP Jérôme Guedj.

Even far-right leader Marine Le Pen said that "as long as it doesn't cost the taxpayer a centime ... everyone should have the right to a private life", while condemning a Paris court's recent decision to lift a ban on a book on her party that revealed that high-profile member Steeve Briois was gay.

Hollande lives with journalist Valérie Trierweiler, for whom he left his then-partner, fellow Socialist Ségolène Royal.

Gayet, a mother of two, has appeared in more than 50 films and many television dramas.

She had a leading part in Quai d'Orsay, a 2013 satirical film about the French foreign ministry and appeared in Shall We Kiss? and My Best Friend.

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